Hands up who’s ever bought an obscure exfoliating brush because one of the Kardashians told you to on Instagram? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Roping in celebrities to promote your brand or product for up to $75,000 a pop is nothing new, with celebrity brand ambassadors fronting for some of the most popular companies such as Puma, Pepsi and countless perfume retailers. Everything is just so much more tempting when your favourite celebrity is promoting it. Who knew I even needed an endless supply of Sharpie’s until David Beckham told me I did?
What celebrities do lack, however, is authenticity. Does your favourite YouTuber really use that makeup product they blogged about in a video marked #ad? Is it just by fluke they’re giving you, one of their 54 million subscribers, a unique code for quids off a product? The likely answer to both these questions is no.
The generation who has grown up with social media as a staple part of day-to-day life is hyperaware of highly edited and scripted posts. Coupled with the recent requirement to clearly state brand endorsement as ads, young audiences are craving a more authentic and reliable version of events, often provided by smaller-scale and more niche influencers.
You can actually be too popular now.
Introducing a new breed of brand ambassadors: the micro-influencers. Considerably smaller and more concentrated than their red-carpet siblings, micro-influencer refers to someone with a smaller yet more dedicated number of followers, sometimes as low as 8,000. Micro-influencers typically have the benefit of topical specificity on their side, with most micro-influencers dedicating their social accounts to a particular topic or niche, such as fashion, beauty or even parenthood.
It’s basic psychology that people buy from people, and a recent report from Nielsen highlights that 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, with only 33% claiming they trust advertisements. Your audience might not personally know that micro-influencer with 10,000 followers, but it’s a given that they are viewed as more approachable than a runway model or Premier League footballer. The idea that the consumer can relate to this 20-something beauty blogger who operates out of her parents’ spareroom is what drives sales and exposure, making for more trustworthy and authentic content.
It goes without mentioning that micro-influencers charge companies considerably less for promotional posts too. In contrast to the four digit figure mentioned earlier, 97% of micro-influencers on Instagram charge less than $500 for a singular promotional post. It may take a number of micro-influencers to maximise and replicate the same reach as Kim Kardashian can achieve with a singular tap of her finger, but even 100 micro-influencers would cost considerably less than a single a-lister at the current rate.
Websites like Instagram are actually working in favour of micro-influencers, as a change to its algorithm meant that “quality” content was favored in the hierarchy of the newsfeed display. It’s social media maths, too, that as follower count continues to increase, like rates decrease. An analysis by Markerly determined that Instagram users with 1-10 million followers earned likes only 1.7% of the time, whereas users with 1,000-10,000 followers earned likes at a 4% rate. Users with fewer than 1,000 followers generated likes 8% of the time, with the comment rate following a similar pattern.
The landscape of micro-influencers is ever-changing, with it only being a matter of time before that YouTube prodigy becomes the next PewDiePie or Zoella. It isn’t uncommon for social media marketing to have a quick expiry date, with things online changing at a continuous and unpredictable rate. With this in mind, the investment-to-potential ratio of working with micro-influencers is mostly positive, meaning companies can comfortably experiment with micro-influencers without breaking the bank. Like anything online, monitoring results to be proactive and adaptable to change will fuel success when working with micro-influencers, who may be your audience's best friend one day, but their pet hate the next.
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